The 2019 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards is our annual event celebrating the best in local food and drink, where we spotlight nominees in categories such as best bars and best chefs in Fort Worth.
The category of Restaurant of the Year represents the pinnacle, where everything comes together: food, drink, service, and atmosphere.
Thanks go to our panel of judges, consisting of former CultureMap Tastemaker Award winners and local F&B experts, who narrowed down the list to 10 finalists.
Winners will be announced at the CultureMap Tastemaker Awards party on April 25 at Fashion Industry Gallery. We’ll applaud the winners, sip cocktails, and dine on bites provided by the nominees. Tickets are on sale now.
Here are our 10 nominees for the 2019 Tastemaker Awards Restaurant of the Year:
B&B Butchers & Restaurant
Upscale steakhouse and traditional butcher shop from Houston was one of the first restaurants to open at the Shops at Clearfork, in 2017. Beef is the thing: It serves Texas and Japanese Wagyu beef — it’s one of a small coterie of restaurants in the U.S. offering 100 percent authentic, A5 certified Kobe beef from Tajima cattle — as well as in-house dry-aged USDA Prime beef, all hand-cut in the on-premise butcher shop. It also boasts one of the most extensive brunch menus in Fort Worth.
With its atmospheric lighting and enormous, tranquil aquarium full of exotic fish, this W. 7th area sushi bar and restaurant is perfect for date nights. Don’t be misled by the glitzy atmosphere — the sushi is amazingly good, and so are the cocktails, all of which you can get at bargain prices during their extended happy hours. They also offer a lengthy selection of vegan sushi that’s vastly popular not only with vegans but with those who veer away from raw fish. A small patio offers a ringside seat to the W. 7th St. action.
Chef and repeat Tastemaker nominee Marcus Paslay launched his portfolio of restaurants (Piattello, plus a Stockyards restaurant TBD) with this rustic, farm-to-table restaurant that he opened in 2013. Mostly everything on the menu is made from scratch, including a rotating house-made pasta, grilled duck breast with blue cheese grits, and grilled Niman Ranch pork chop. Clay Pigeon was ahead of the curve on craft cocktails and also features an extensive wine list.
Progressive Southern restaurant is an import from Austin, from Keith House and James Robert, beloved for its innovative takes on nostalgic dishes such as shrimp and grits, biscuits, and fried chicken. Fried catfish, for example, comes with smoked uni tartar. Freshly prepared biscuits are the big deal here, but pay close attention to the massive fried-chicken sandwich, smeared with chicken-fat mayo, and lobster-crawfish pot pie.
Fine-dining downtown restaurant is one of the most acclaimed restaurants in Fort Worth, with a great bar scene and a menu featuring prime steaks and creative New American fare paired with fine wines in elegant, contemporary decor. Chef Blaine Staniford and owner Adam Jones went on to open an also-popular casual sibling nearby, Little Red Wasp, but they keep things fresh at Grace with special tasting menus including an all-veggie option.
Gus’s Fried Chicken
Memphis-based restaurant featured on Food Channel shows such as The Best Thing I Ever Ate has developed a cult following for its spicy, crispy chicken. Unlike Nashville hot chicken that can deliver an almost painful level of heat, the chicken at Gus’s delivers a more mild tingle. It’s fried in peanut oil and features a crunchy crispy skin. Every meal comes with slightly sweet beans, slaw, and a slice of white bread.
Former downtown Fort Worth staple has decamped to Arlington where its steakhouse menu and attentive service has won over a new crowd. Located in the space formerly occupied by Cacharel, Arlington’s previous fine-dining experience, Mercury has a classic steakhouse vibe with wood paneling, piano bar, and great views. The menu includes steak, lamb shank, pan-seared foie gras, and seafood.
Panther City BBQ
Since opening in January, Fort Worth’s top barbecue trailer has made a name for itself for its expertly smoked brisket, beef sandwich, pork belly burnt ends, and inventive sides, such as brisket-spiked elote. Panther City will have a permanent home in its own backyard when it opens a sit-down restaurant in a new building going up at its current location at 201 E. Hattie St.
Spiral Diner is a trailblazer not only because it’s a vegan restaurant in cattle county, but because it anticipated one o the biggest foodie trends of the decade, as the sales and popularity of vegan food continues to explode. But they’re not great just because they’re a trend. With more than a decade under their belt, they continue to refine their diner food recipes, and have some of the best cakes, pies, and baked goods around. Fort Worth was the original and now they have always-mobbed locations in Dallas and Denton.
Tacos are taken seriously at this Fort Worth joint, which founder (and Tastemaker Awards nominee) Sarah Castillo founded as a series of food trucks. The concept expanded to catering and brick-and-mortar restaurant after demand soared; she’s since opened a location on Dallas’ trendy Henderson Avenue. Breakfast is the best; order a flour taco filled with eggs, Wright bacon, and aged cheddar, plus a corn taco filled with eggs, garlic-oregano potatoes, and aged cheddar.